In our hemisphere, and particularly in the United States and
Europe, August is the month to exit the city and spend some time in
a cooler, saner clime — the mountains, riverside, the ocean. As we
travel back to town with September around the corner, sand still in
our shoes and beach tar on our feet, our heads are clearer and our
bodies are relaxed. That is, until we pull into the driveway and
realize that we have five loads of trip laundry, haven’t answered
e-mail in a week and desperately need a manicure and pedicure. How
do we transition back to work in an orderly fashion, and maybe even
get a photo album of the trip put together?

First of all, we’ve got to back up a bit and discuss what to do
before take-off. Did you handle everything at work that you
possibly could before leaving on vacation? Did you leave an “I’ll
be out until…” message on your voice and e-mail systems? Did you
put a hold on your postal service and subscriptions? Did you leave
the house extra clean and tidy so that your re-entry would be less
painful? A sink full of smelly dishes is not the odor you want to
register after deep inhalations of Hawai’ian plumeria.

It’s also possible to do a bit while en vacances to maintain
order. Although I definitely don’t recommend checking in with voice
and e-mail obsessively while traveling for pleasure, a quick glance
at the e-mail or checking the phone once a day — if you are in
range and don’t have to make any great efforts to do it — can
prevent an ugly backlog upon your return to the office. If you will
be out of cell range and away from Internet service, make it very
clear to your colleagues and have someone cover for you so that no
one is surprised or feels blown off.

Also while traveling, be careful not to over-indulge in food and
drink. Contrary to popular belief, food eaten on vacation does have
calories. Nothing cools a vacation buzz like not being able to
button your pants the first workday back. Maintain a little
discipline in your diet and exercise while on the road and you’ll
maintain order in your closet much more easily when it’s time to
get back into work clothes.

That said, don’t stray too far out of your physical comfort zone
when vacationing. Coming home with broken bones and sprains puts a
big strain on order. Exercise, but with common sense. Triple think
the high altitude hike, the double black diamond runs, and cliff

When you get home, unless it is very late at night, unpack your
bags first thing. Get that first load of laundry into the washer.
In fact, even if it is late, try to open the suitcases and get a
load together; you’ll be able to throw it into the dryer and start
the second load first thing in the morning.

Put all your toiletries away. Wipe down your suitcases or
backpacks and put them back into storage. Get the car washed and
fill it with fuel. Pick up the mail and take the hold off delivery.
Purchase groceries for the week ahead. If you did overdo it on
vacation, stock up on your go-to diet foods.

On the grooming front, if you don’t have time for a
manicure-pedicure before the work week starts, give your
fingernails a little filing and cuticle care and wear closed-toe
shoes until you have time to get to your toes.

Lastly, schedule an hour after dinner each night the first week
back to download your vacation photos and organize them. Name them,
date them, print them, and maybe even create a photo book at or Peck away at the project an hour
each night and within a week you’ll have all your vacation memories
ready to share and enjoy.

A smooth exit strategy from work to vacation, a little
discipline while traveling, and hitting the reorganization
immediately when you return might seem a little uptight but the
rewards are worth it.

Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa
Valley. For information about her services, go to or call 738-4346. Follow House in Order on
Facebook for more organizing tricks and tips.